Shout hallelujah and pass the popcorn!
Churches and Bible study groups will soon have competition from Hollywood as cine-plexes, Netflix, RedBox, Movies-on-Demand, Hula, etc. make way for holy film productions 2014-style. As back in the heyday of such boffo box office extravaganzas as Best Picture Oscar-winning Ben-Hur (1959), star-studded Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), hippy mock-opera Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) youth-oriented King of Kings (1961), first wide-screened The Robe (1956), pectorially impressive Samson and Delilah (1949), Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments (1956), the more recent and controversial Passion of the Christ (2004) and even animated musical Prince of Egypt (1998), irreverent profit-focused studio conglomerates hope again to cash in on the Holy Bible. In the best money-lenders-at-the-temple tradition, the miraculous more than three billion dollar revenue made by such pop culture popular Christian-related movies from just the second half of the twentieth century has self-serving movie makers back for additional loot.
The already released TV-spinoff Son of God (2014) womb-to-tomb+resurrection story of Jesus leads the way to yet more movies about other well-known holy writ personages. During the remainder of 2014, familiar Sunday school tales of yore will be adapted into sword/sandle epics with traditionally pious who’s who of Bible greats in the guise of lucratively franchised 3D IMAX FX trendy graphically violent comic book superheroes. Boffo box office Christian (Batman) Bale, Nicholas (Leaving Las Vegas) Cage, Russell (Gladiator) Crowe, Mel (Mad Max) Gibson, Brad (World War Z) Pitt, Will (Men in Black) Smith, even The Rock, with a new demographically appealing Latino Lord star. Come hell or high water, count Abel and Cain (sibling rivalry), David and Goliath (bullying), Mary (childcare), Moses (liberation), Noah (ecology), Pontius Pilate (law) among the Hollywood divine to arrive soon at a theater near you.
With more money grubbing than soul saving involved, there’s always the threat of good Christian folk condemning rather than praising disputable interpretations of such blessed subject matter. And, Heaven help the producers inciting such pesky matters as boycotts and picket lines, which was the case with the perplexing hubby,/wife,/kiddies family man portrayal of Jesus in Martin Scorcese’s contentiously snubbed and financially disastrous Last Temptation of Christ (1988). Such controversy begats bad word-of-mouth which in turn begats the cardinal show biz sin of poor ticket sales.
Even if such everlastingly hallowed characters are so mercenarily transformed, Christians themselves can’t go wrong. If a movie is viewed as a sacrosanct endorsement of Holy Scripture, they sell out massive blocks of tickets (as has already been the case) to insure success. If a movie is seen as a profane misstatement of God’s word, the nice new Pope and holy-roller preachers insure failure by condemning their flock who see it.
Never appearing as a swarthy olive-complexioned stubble-faced short stocky cranky Semitic man with coarse, wiry or curly shoulder length or shorter haired, realistic consideration to Holy Land origins is typically ignored. When tall, dark, handsome, long-haired, bearded, stapingly sturdy nice guy movie star Saviors attract more ticket sales, trendy Jesus is the go-to-guy. Though far afield from their Almighty namesake, in lieu of first century selfies or on-site renderings, there’s just no beating the ethnically inaccurate:
(A) 1. way too young and attractive for his own good blue-eyed King of Kings, Jeffrey Hunter;
(A-) 2. intense blood ‘n guts sado-masochistic blue-eyed Passion of the Christ, Jim Caviezel;
(B+) 3. personably alluring Portuguese hashtag Son of God hottie tamale, Diogo Morgado.
With respect to this most prepossessing ever trio of Jesus Christ hunks, commercial interests quite visibly trump anthropological faithfulness. As a result of such Hollywood deification, the Proverb-ial (3:6) “In all your ways acknowledge Him.” sounds blasphemous rather than devout.
—W.W. Spencer, NSB-side, FL